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Day in The Life of a Chartered Building Surveyor

Sarah Palmer joined KK’s Cardiff team in October 2019 and passed her RICS APC in June 2023, earning the Chartered MRICS status. She’s become a valuable member of the team, dedicated to mentorship. She has recently taken on the role of leading ‘APC workshops’ alongside Mike Cowell. Together they provide valuable guidance on the RICS APC processes and effective preparation techniques.

Today, we’re shining the light on Sarah and learning more about her day-to-day role as a newly Chartered Surveyor, her work-life balance, the positive aspects of teamwork in the industry, and more.

From someone who has chosen to change careers, what drew you to surveying in the first place?

My life has gone through quite a transformation since I decided to retrain as a Building Surveyor. I previously worked in heritage, and I have a Master’s degree in this area. Before starting my Post Graduate Diploma in Building Surveying, I was working as the Programme Manager for the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund, a £55 million Government funded scheme administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. During this time, I collaborated closely with Architects and Surveyors, gaining an understanding of their roles and projects, and found it fascinating. I quickly realised that this was the career path I wanted to take and embarked on retraining. In 2017 I transitioned to part time work and dedicated myself to studying Building Surveying, completing my course in 2020 with a Distinction.

Working as a Building Surveyor has provided me with the opportunity to have a balance between being out on site and desk-based work. I couldn't be happier with my decision.

What is a typical working day like for you?

No day is ever the same, I am currently undertaking building fabric condition surveys and also developing maintenance and refurbishment projects. Yesterday I was out on site all day undertaking a survey whereas today I’ll be based at my desk working on a refurbishment scheme for school alongside administrative tasks for projects which are already on site. Tomorrow, I’ll be back out on site for the morning and then in the office for the afternoon. It’s such a varied role and I really enjoy the diversity of workload, it's safe to say that every day brings something new and different.

Tell us about a project you have been working on?

I’m currently working with colleagues to assist with some of their educational clients. My experience so far has been focussed in the commercial sector, so it’s a nice change of scene to work in a new environment. The projects are at the inception stage, so I’ll get to see them right through to completion. One is a toilet refurbishment scheme, and the other is a roof covering renewal scheme in a Listed Building. It's a busy but rewarding role!

After becoming Chartered, how have you felt your role has developed?

I would say that the work I’m doing hasn't changed much, but I've been fortunate to have more chances to participate in APC workshops and assist others going through the process, which is very rewarding. It's been beneficial to have the knowledge fresh in my mind from recently going through it myself.

What do you think are the benefits of working as a team?

Building Surveying can sometimes feel quite isolating, but thanks to our team calls and office catchups, we are able to bounce ideas off one another. We have adapted our work processes to collaborate effectively and keep each other up to speed. I really appreciate the fact that we can work together and benefit from those different perspectives. It's personally fulfilling and adds great value to our work.

What advice would you give to someone going through the Chartership process?

Absolutely trust the process. Especially at KK, there are some great processes is in place. Every day is a learning opportunity, even after achieving Chartered status. The best advice I can give is to get out there and get stuck in. Keep embracing new challenges because it's the best way to grow personally and professionally.

What do you do in your spare time to maintain a work-life balance?

Well, I have a lovely Boston Terrier named Murphy who keeps me busy! Going to the gym in the evenings is also a great way to stay active. Thanks to agile working, I can sometimes integrate gym time into my work breaks if my schedule allows for it. It’s all about finding a good balance and making the most of our time.